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BOOK REVIEW: “The Elopement: A Memoir” by Dipika Kohli

TITLE: The Elopement
AUTHOR: Dipika Kohli
Twitter: @DipikaKohli
Kismuth on Facebook
FORMAT: Ebook (Kindle) available from Amazon
GENRE: Memoir
SOURCE: Review copy from author

Author Bio:

A former journalist, raised in America by her Indian parents, Dipika Kohli has previously lived in Japan and Ireland, and now lives in Durham, NC, with her husband and son. The third volume in her Kismuth series will be published in October 2012.


When American-born Karin Malhotra elopes to Ireland with her college sweetheart, she botches the dreams her parents had for her when they left New Delhi with a stalwart philosophy on what a good life “ought” to be. “Opportunity,” her father said, “is in the U.S. That’s why we came.”

But finding herself in Ireland, juxtaposed in not one, but two additional cultures (her new husband is Japanese), Karin finds herself thinking about the early years of her own parents’ married lives, and wondering if, like her, they questioned their decision to leave everything familiar for the mere promise of a better life.

She tumbles headlong without any preparation into a small village in the corner of Ireland. Not only does she have to contend with a new suite of social mores, she wonders what it would have been like had she not quit home.

(Source: book description)


The Elopement is the second book in a four-part memoir series, Kismuth, which, in Hindi, means “destiny”. Karin’s grandmother defined destiny as:

We’re all meant to be someplace…And when we get there, wherever it is, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

This implies a passiveness about the process, a casting off of responsibility for our futures, yet many would argue that destiny is of our own making. You reap what you sow, is another way of putting it.

Karin Malhotra’s ambitious parents left Delhi in search for a new life, for better opportunities for them and their children. Sadly, by forcing their own ambitions onto Karin, they sowed what they would later reap: an unhappy daughter, rejecting her family’s strict expectations by following her heart and searching for her own “better opportunities”. Her interpretation of the phrase, unfortunately, did not agree with that of her parents, who refused even to acknowledge Karin’s relationship with Japanese boyfriend Yoshi.

Little wonder that, when Karin finds the acceptance from Yoshi’s parents that she never had from her own, elopement seems an attractive, fairytale-like option. But of course, everyone knows that not all fairytales have happy endings. And while it might be possible to create one’s own destiny, the lesson we can learn from this book is that it is folly to try to create someone else’s.

The Elopement is a fascinating read, beautifully and eloquently written. Dipika Kohli’s next book, The Dive, starts where The Elopement ends. I am already counting the days until its publication on October 10.

Notable quotes:

On being a TCK:

[My parents’] choices, and the consequences that arose, ought not affect my own. If they didn’t think the trade was worth it — the one where they gave up everything in a familiar context in India to take a chance on a new opportunity abroad — well, that wasn’t my problem, was it?

On interculteral relationships:

Our summer of trying out…this intercultural relationship thing, felt like wearing a happened-upon outfit I’d never imagined could fit, but thought, once in a while, why not break that one out? …This “once in a while” was about to become my new look.

On Ireland:

Ireland had the kinds of places and people that would make you stop what you were doing, and sit up and pay full attention, to the degree that you felt really aware and present, maybe for the first time in your life.


STAY TUNED for Thursday’s post!

Image: Book cover – “The Elopement”

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3 responses to “BOOK REVIEW: “The Elopement: A Memoir” by Dipika Kohli

  1. rachelsrantingsinrio September 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    I loved this! I’m always looking for new books for my kindle! A good book in English is like a slice of heaven 🙂

    • dipikakohli November 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm


      I’m really glad you liked it.

      Thanks to Kate, too, for the lovely review! And to the bloggers here for the “likes.” This is a great community… the enthusiasm is contagious!


  2. Pingback: Monday village report #30: The real reason I wrote a book might surprise you | Kismuth means destiny

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